“Let’s not incarcerate what we can rehabilitate” – Min. Lawrence

─ stakeholders urged to work with courts to provide alternatives to punitive punishments to persons who commit non-violent crimes and are found to have a drug dependency issue

DPI, Guyana, Friday, August 31, 2018

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence today said stakeholders should work with the courts to provide alternatives to the punitive punishments to persons who commit non-violent crimes and are found to have a drug dependency issue.

Minister Lawrence said figures on incarceration for drug users continue to mount without any hint of reversal and has seen needless spending of State Funds.

The minister was delivering the feature address at the launch of the annual Drug Information Network Report at the Georgetown Club this morning.

According to Minister Lawrence, efforts must be made to prevent, treat and rehabilitate non-violent drug abusers.

“Let us not incarcerate those whom we can rehabilitate; for the less heinous crimes. Let us work with the courts to provide alternatives to the punitive punishment and help those in need, via substance abuse treatment modalities rather than imprisonment,” she said.

Minister Lawrence said the money could instead be spent on developing prevention programmes that will target the youth and at-risk population.

Data from the 2017 report shows that some 55,139 kilograms of Narcotics were seized by law enforcement officials. Over 117,000 kg of marijuana plants were destroyed. The police was also able to remove drugs valued at over $20Million from the streets, convicting 300 persons for various drug crimes.

During this period, a total of 423 persons were charged for the trafficking of narcotics: 29 by CANU and 394 by the Guyana Police Force. Of this number, 370 persons were charged for trafficking marijuana, 52 for trafficking cocaine and one for trafficking heroin. In total, 49 women were charged for this crime, with 37 being charged for trafficking marijuana, 11 for cocaine and one for heroin. For the same period, 110 persons were convicted for trafficking narcotics. 89 persons were convicted for trafficking marijuana and 21 for trafficking cocaine. In total, six women were convicted for trafficking marijuana while nine women were convicted for trafficking cocaine.

Head of the Guyana Drug Information Network, Tiffany Barry said the institution has been fighting the prevalence of drug usage in the country.

This year’s report was developed by the Drug Information Network, with technical assistance from the cooperation programme between Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alexis Rodney

Images: Akeem Thomas

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